Championship promotion chasers Derby County failed to sign a new defender in the transfer window despite interest in Everton’s Matthew Pennington.

Craig Ramage believes Derby County’s failure to sign a new centre-back during the January transfer window could ruin their hopes of automatic promotion this season, as reported by the Derby Telegraph.

It is no secret that Rams boss Frank Lampard wanted to bring in a new defender before the end of last month with Derby overreliant on the experienced Richard Keogh and Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori.

The East Midlands club were left disappointed, however, Lampard admitting to the publication that they ran out of time to negotiate a deal for Everton defender Matthew Pennington (below), who is on loan at Championship strugglers Ipswich Town.

And Ramage fears that could cost his former club dear.

“I was disappointed that Derby County did not bring in a centre back before the January transfer window closed,” said Ramage, who played for the Rams between 1988 and 1994.

“It is a massive gamble by the club with three months of the season to run. I felt if we could get three in then it would give us an opportunity to have a real go for automatic promotion.

“Now I think it will be play-offs, at best.”

Ramage’s fears could be answered, however, with TEAMtalk claiming on Wednesday night that Derby are set to sign Efe Ambrose on a free-transfer.

The 30-year-old exercised a clause in his contract to force an exit from Hibernian in January and is heading to Pride Park, despite interest from Middlesbrough and Bolton Wanderers.

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